TRENTON, N.J. (ChurchMilitant.com) - All set to close permanently, at least five Catholic schools in New Jersey collectively took over $1 million in taxpayer-funded loans meant for businesses to survive in the wake of the Wuhan virus.
NJ.com reports at least five Catholic schools in two of the state's dioceses applied for and accepted loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) after it was announced the schools were scheduled to shut their doors for good.
PPP loans are intended to help "businesses keep their workforce employed during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis."
It is impossible to calculate how much money these and other Catholic schools have received because SBA records only provide broad ranges such as $350,000 to $1 million and do not report loans less than $150,000.
Marci Hamilton, a professor and attorney who advocates for victims of clergy abuse, told NJ.com: "If they took funds and shut down the school, that wasn't the intent of the funds. The intent of the funds was to keep the schools in business."
These Catholic schools taking the money was "an inappropriate use of PPP funds, not legally, but morally," according to Hamilton.
Hamilton's commentary echoes the Baltimore Catechism, which teaches a "person may be guilty of dishonesty in getting money or goods by false pretenses and by using either for purposes for which they were not given."
Marist High School in Bayonne announced plans to close permanently in January but took at least $350,000 of PPP money months later in April.
"Cristo Rey Newark High School, a member of the Cristo Rey Network, also will close due to lack of operational viability, as per a resolution adopted by the school's board," reads an announcement published May 7 on the archdiocesan website. But records show Cristo Rey Newark High School took at least $350,000 of PPP money 10 days prior, on April 27.
The archdiocese of Newark is currently headed by Cdl. Joseph Tobin.
Tobin made headlines in Feb. 2018 for a tweet — widely assumed to have been meant for an Italian actor staying in his residence at the time — in which he wrote: "Supposed to be airborne in 10 minutes. Nighty-night, baby. I love you."
In Oct. 2019, Tobin hired a devoted LGBTQ leader as senior associate for operations in the archdiocese.
The cardinal is a well-documented supporter of homosexuality who once said in an interview he believes "a rethinking of the mystery of human sexuality is important."
NJ.com reported on April 17 the decision of St. Joseph High School in Hammonton to close permanently, but the high school took at least $350,000 of PPP money three days prior, on April 14.
St. Joseph Regional Elementary School in Hammonton and Good Shepherd Regional Elementary School in Collingswood also announced permanent closure but took PPP money beforehand. The exact amount is unknown.
The diocese of Camden is currently headed by Bp. Dennis Sullivan.
Sullivan recently made headlines for suspending payments to victims of clergy sex abuse, claiming a lack of money owing to pandemic-related restrictions. The diocese says the lack of funds has forced withdrawal from the Independent Victim Compensation Program, which is used to compensate abuse victims.